A globe-trotting securities dealer who set up boiler rooms throughout the world in what gave rise to one of the U.S. government’s largest penny stock fraud investigations was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.
Sandy Winick, a Canadian described as a "penny stock fraud kingpin," was accused of masterminding two schemes that fleeced investors of $140 million. First, he and associates allegedly peddled dubious stocks at pumped-up values. Then he victimized buyers again by selling them a promise to help recoup their losses in exchange for a fee, the U.S. claimed.
Winick was sentenced on Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court for a conspiracy charge related to the lesser of the two plots. In a memorandum filed in May, prosecutors asked that he receive as much as nine years in prison, arguing that he "sat at the apex of two enormous international schemes. He pleaded guilty to only one due "to the skilled advocacy of his attorney," prosecutors said.
“There are low points in people’s lives, and you do things that you regret,” Winick told the judge. “I certainly regret getting involved in this whole thing.”
Winick has been in U.S. custody since his arrest in 2013. His lawyers had asked he be sentenced to time served.
"I don’t know how that plays into the morality of it, but this scheme didn’t affect U.S. citizens,” Richard Rosenberg, Winick’s lawyer said. “He’s an entrepreneurial sort, capable of putting his intelligence and entrepreneurial skills to good use in the future.”
Prosecutors said in the filing that it was "clear that Winick was the leader of a criminal organization that was extensive."
Known by as many as seven aliases including "Abdiel Vergara" and "Robin Cheer," Winick was arrested in Bangkok in 2013. He pleaded guilty last year to the "advance fee" scheme and admitted he and his associates targeted owners of "essentially worthless penny stocks" and "simply took the fees without providing any services," according to a transcript.
Prosecutors said Winick and the associates invented sham businesses, including fake law firms, to carry out the plot. They operated it out of call centers in Vietnam, Thailand and Canada, and planned to open a new one in Brooklyn, the government said.